Over many years our dogs become an integral part of our lives. They share the sad times and are almost always part of our happiest memories. They have a way of weaving themselves into the fabric of our day-to-day routines in a way that feels as comfortable for us as it is for them.
But they go through the same life stages as we do culminating in their senior years.
So, what is a senior dog?
If your dog is over the age of seven, then they are considered a senior dog. On average, dogs age seven times faster than humans, meaning the time your beloved companion is nine years old, their organs, joints, and metabolism are comparative to a 63-year-old human. That is almost retirement age! Even more reason they need pampering, additional loving, and lots of affection.
It’s often difficult to gauge the true age of a dog, especially with the considerable difference between breeds. In dogs, small breeds live the longest while larger breeds have a relatively short lifespan. For example, a Great Dane is considered senior at 6 whereas a Toy Poodle would not be considered old until in their teens. In both cases their diet, exercise and medical history have a major influence in how pets age and the number of years that they live.
The best way to tell if a dog is growing old is simply to observe changes in their behaviour or appearance. At some point, signs will become apparent that will indicate that your beloved pet is reaching old age, but this doesn’t mean that you should begin to worry or become over-protective. You just need to adjust the daily routines, be a little more observant and take a little more care of their health.
Senior dogs have very different needs to adult dogs and puppies
Caring for a senior dog can be challenging both financially and emotionally. Senior pets can suffer from arthritis, blindness, as well as other health issues, avoid overfeeding and make sure to provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation. A senior dog can still live a full life with a little bit of preplanning.
One of the most common problems that a senior dog faces is mobility. This makes it necessary to provide plenty of exercise, such as daily walks.
Regular check-ups with the veterinarian are a must for older pets. A visit once or twice yearly will allow the vet to screen for typical illnesses that occur with ageing.
Vaccinations, worming, and flea treatments must be continued even in the senior years. You should also consider adding specialized nutritional supplements to the diet for your senior dog.
Healthy diet and exercise in ageing years
Obesity is one of the most common problems in senior dogs simply because they begin to sleep more and receive less exercise although they are still given the same amount of food. In short, these pets are receiving more food than their activity level can burn off and this leads to obesity and all the associated health risks that come with it, potentially shortening their life span.
How to take extra care of a senior dog
Make sure your senior dog eats food that is high in protein, but low in fat and calories. You can also consult your Vet for recommendations on the amount of exercise your senior dog needs.
Gentle, low intensity exercise is important for dogs so that they burn off excess calories, maintain muscle mass and keep your senior pet’s joints mobile. They may not be as quick at fetch but taking them on a suitably paced walk or jog will keep them happy, healthy, and fit.
5 Quick tips for keeping your older dog fit and active:
- Daily Walks
- Healthy Snacks (Farmer Pete’s treats of course!)
- Supplements (Farmer Pete’s Fish, Green Lipped Mussels, Green Tripe, Shark)
- Regular vet visits
- Lots of love (Cuddles and Treats are the best way to convey your love for them)
Arthritis and joint problems in senior dogs
Older pets do not handle extreme changes or stress well. They become less tolerant of hot and cold weather and some with joint problems visibly struggle.
In summer, dogs may sleep on hard floors to cool off but this sedentary behaviour along with the heat stiffens their joints, may result in hair loss and calluses which can then become a problem if they become raw and infected. A water-filled cool beds are terrific at offering a soft base while keeping them ultra-cool and comfortable.
In winter, beds with extra thick padding helps to keep their joints warm and make it easier for them to move after lying down for a long time. Raised dog beds combined with a cosy mattress keep the dog off the cold ground but also position the bed at a height that is easier for them to step off and on to.
An orthopaedic bed is also good for senior dogs dealing with arthritic and joint pain but can be a little on the expensive side.
Dog ramps are a brilliant solution for owners who have difficulty lifting a large dog with arthritis. The ramp allows the dog to walk straight into the back of a car or onto a bed without any pain for it or its owner.
Weight control in arthritic pets is very important so that extra stress is not put on their joints.
Dental care in older dogs
Disease of the gums is more common in pets than teeth issues such as cavities. Over time, plaque forms on the teeth causing the gums to recede. As this occurs, more plaque is produced, and the gums recede even further. Eventually the dentin covering the roots of the teeth are exposed and the teeth become loose and the gums sore.
Lack of dental care can also cause bacteria to spread to other areas of the body and enter the bloodstream making the pet quite sick.
Including Farmer Pete’s Senior dehydrated dog treat chews in a dogs diet will help to keep teeth clean as these scrape against the teeth cleaning the surface as they are eaten removing food particles and plaque all while being totally satisfying and enjoyable.
Grooming older dogs
Older pets benefit enormously from regular grooming sessions since as they age, they often don’t have the energy to groom themselves properly.
Older dogs really benefit from a daily brush and a weekly bath not just to remove dead fur and oil but also to stimulate the skin to reduce infections and calluses. Older dogs tend to lick their sores, or the hard, irritated skin and paws. The saliva can cause infections and bacteria resulting in the problem getting worse.
Washing your dog in the variety of Farmer Pete’s dog soaps will help elevate common skin problems, fur issues, and reduce licking.
Our Paw balm is excellent in softening those hardened, scratchy paws and cracked noses.
Behaviour issues in elderly dogs
Separation anxiety is one of the most common behaviour problems in older dogs as they become very anxious when they sense that their owner is about to leave or if there is a change of routine. If they have vision or hearing loss, this might add to their overall inability to cope. When the owner does leave, the dog may become destructive, bark, or even soil the house even though they might have been very well house-trained when younger.
Consider changing the departure cues as dogs are very quick to pick up on patterns that you might not be aware of.
Try small departures that the dog can cope with even if it is just 30 seconds but each time that you re-enter the home, reward them for staying calm. Farmer Pete’s treats are great for this.
Try associating your leaving with something good. Place treats in areas around the home so that the dog spends its first few minutes having fun following the trail around the house. Or use a treat ball or hollow toy and stuff it with Farmer Pete’s treats or other favourite food to keep it busy and more relaxed. Leave some easy listening music on to mask any external noises and make the environment relaxing and comfortable.
Farmer Pete’s conclusion
Dogs are really man’s best friend, they provide unconditional love to us, always greet us with a waggling tail and big smile when we come home and their loyalty knows no bounds.
So, lets take care of our Senior dogs, they deserve it!
Give your dog the healthy foods, take many strolls together, and maintain a preventive health regimen. It will make you both happier and healthier.
Our recommend top elderly and senior dog chew treats